Come May 7, there will be fireworks at the Perak state assembly and all eyes will be on speaker V Sivakumar, who is expected to exercise his wide discretionary powers to frustrate Barisan Nasional’s plans.
Currently, there are already indications that BN’s Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir (right) and his six executive council members would be barred from entering the state assembly.
The seven were suspended from the house by the special privileges committee in February for contempt against the house. The committee’s decision was later adopted during the famous March 3 “tree assembly” and is held by Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers to be binding.
In a statement today, Perak Pakatan legal coordinator Ngeh Khoo Ham said not only was there no court order for the suspension to be revoked, Section 3 of the Legislative Assembly (Privileges) Enactment 1959 also provides the committee and its members legal immunity.
Previously, Zambry’s lawyers have claimed that they have successfully sought a declaration from the Federal Court to lift the suspension order, purportedly made by the speaker, which was said to be unlawful.
What about the sitting arrangements?
However, a chaotic situation might happen if Sivakumar orders for the removal of members from the state assembly and the sergeant-at-arms, a serving police officer, refuses to enforce the order.
“In this case, the speaker will have to appoint someone else, which can be anyone, to replace the sergeant-at-arms and carry out the order,” opined veteran Selangor lawmaker and current Selangor speaker Teng Chang Khim.
Assuming that Zambry and his exco members manages to enter state assembly, they will still have to contend with the sitting arrangements which are expected to be maintained at status quo since the last time a normal sitting was held in November.
“The speaker has no reason to change the sitting arrangement, pending a legal dispute to determine the legitimate menteri besar,” said a source close to Perak Pakatan.
According to Standing Orders 2, the speaker can change sitting arrangements “as he may think fit” and his decision on such matters “shall be final”.
By convention, the government of the day would sit to the right of the speaker and the seat of the menteri besar would be closest to the speaker.
Who will hand over the sultan’s speech?
Other than embarrassment, the net effect of the sitting arrangement may result in Zambry losing his privileges and priorities accorded to the menteri besar in the house.
One such privilege is a special ceremony involving the handing over of the sultan’s speech by the menteri besar.
Since Sivakumar does not recognise Zambry as the menteri besar, the former is expected to call upon ousted Perak menteri besar Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin to hand the text to the sultan.
“If this happens, the sultan may not read the text and merely officiate the proceedings,” Teng commented.
Another important aspect to the sitting is the motion by Zambry to appoint a new speaker in the form of MIC’s R Ganesan, the former Sungkai state assemblyperson.
The removal of Sivakumar would finally complete Zambry’s checkmate on Pakatan for total control of the legislative assembly.
Speaker under round-the-clock protection
According to a April 27 notice issued by state assembly clerk Abdullah Antong Sabri, he had received a motion from Zambry on April 23 to sack the speaker.
It is however inconsequential if state assembly clerk received the motion ahead of the 14-day requirement as it is the speaker who determines if the criteria is fulfilled, said Nga.
At the time of writing, it cannot be confirmed if Sivakumar had received Zambry’s motion in time.
Even if Zambry did meet the 14-day requirement, Sitiawan state representative Nga Kor Ming said that the standing orders still grants the speaker the right to reject any motions at his discretion.
For now, it would appear that for Zambry to get his way, Sivakumar must not be allowed to sit on the speaker’s chair, at all cost.
It is understood that Sivakumar has been under round-the-clock protection by Pakatan volunteers. [Source: Malaysiakini]